Roger Chen of Soundwhich, a custom royalty free music creation tool. In the article, he’ll cover the ins and outs of royalty free music, why it’s necessary and how you can create some yourself.
Royalty free music
You have created a wonderful video. Now you need a great soundtrack to bring the video to life. If you plan to upload the video to the Internet, you need to make sure that you have cleared the right to use the music in your video.
In general, you can’t use commercial music unless you get a permission from the copyright owner.
The most convenient and affordable option is to use “royalty-free music”. It means that you only pay once upfront to get a license, then you can safely use the music within the limitations specified in the license without the hassle of negotiating terms or paying any more.
Customize your music
There are many royalty-free music libraries out there. Most of them offer a long list of available songs organized by genres and moods.
However, you have to take the downloaded music as is in its original form since you don’t have access to individual instrumental tracks to further edit them.
You have worked so hard to polish every frame of your video. Your soundtrack also deserves your personal touch, so it lives up to the high standard of the visual counterpart.
The platform that gives you the power to customize your soundtrack is called Soundwhich. The idea is to make music just like making a sandwich. With the freedom to customize, you gain the following benefits:
- You have much more flexibility.
- You can focus on making the soundtrack right rather than picking one that’s suboptimal.
- You oftentimes end up paying less for your custom music.
Soundwhich is a web-based platform with a large number of perfectly synced musical ingredients, such as vocals, guitar, piano, strings, beats, etc.
The engine has taken care of all the complicated music theories and audio engineering pipelines. You can fully focus on experimenting with different combinations of ingredients, without any prior experience.
Instead of picking one song from thousands of candidates, you use your creative mind to customize one song to fit your video.
Understand the building blocks of music
Before we jump into a step-by-step guide, we need to understand the building blocks of music, respectively, the roles of melody, harmony, bass, drums, fills.
- Melody is a single line of notes that often has sing-able characteristics. In popular music, lead singer and instrumental solo are classified as melody.
- Harmony is often played as chords, which signifies tonality, rhythm, texture and emotion of the music.
- Bass and Drums together define the groove of the music. They make the overall sound spectrum much wider.
- Fills is an auxiliary role to further augment the color of the music.
Soundwhich’s music customization is built upon combination of melody, harmony, bass, drums and fills. Soundwhich library contains a large number of perfectly-synced ingredients categorized by these five roles.
As a user, all you need to do is to pick one ingredient from each category.
Find your way to Studio
There are two ways to get to the Studio page, where you can customize your soundtrack. On the top of the landing page, you can find entry links to Songs and Studio.
Although Studio is a shorter route, it asks you to customize a song from scratch. We recommend first time users to enter the Songs page first.
A huge number of community-made songs are available for preview and direct purchase. What’s more important is the “customize” icon on the right side of each song item, which takes you to the Studio with the selected song’s ingredients automatically loaded.
If you get to the Studio from a song on the Songs page, it will load the ingredients at startup. The interface is basically comprised of five role cards and a waveform display.
Each role can be loaded with one ingredient. Once the ingredients are loaded, they can be played simultaneously.
The following item numbers refer to those in the graph above.
1. Click the arrow to play or pause.
2. Navigate to a different time by clicking on the waveform.
3. Control the volumes, mute, or solo the ingredient.
4. Click to select a different ingredient for this role. This is the door that leads to unlimited possibilities in customization. We will talk about this topic in detail.
5. Select a different key / BPM. We need to explain a little bit of music theory here. When different ingredients are composed using the same key, BPM (and other constraints), they can be combined and sound good. In other words, only ingredients in the same key / BPM can be combined. If you switch to C / 120, you will find different ingredients that cannot be mixed with those in G / 150.
6. When you find something you like, you can save the combination as a song. After you save it, it will appear on Songs page like shortcuts.
7. After you experiment for some time, you will get to some music you’ll consider trying out with your video. Click to download a MP3 file. You can specify the length of your video. The system will generate the audio to match the length.
Let’s look at item number 4 in more detail. The library will show up as below. You can find all ingredients of that role (melody) that are ready to use in the key / BPM (G / 150). The following item numbers refer to those in the graph below.
1. Click the title of an ingredient to load it. It will take a few seconds to fully download the audio file. Before you start downloading, you may preview it to have a quick idea what it’s about.
2. For each role, you will find different instruments or genres on the side for your quick access.
3. Click to select a different sorting method.
4. Click Explore button to see all tags. Use this feature to narrow down genres, moods, and find ingredients of specific musical instruments.
Tips for customization
It’s important to note that there isn’t right or wrong in music. There is only different taste. You can definitely combine a jazz piano with disco beat to create some unknown fusion style. It’s extremely fun to do that.
If you have an objective, we provide the following tips to guide you through the process so you don’t get lost.
Making electronic dance music
We recommend you to start building a groove by combining bass and drums first. Think about the following:
- Do you want a simple or groovy bass? Smooth or aggressive?
- Do you want a cool chill beat, or heavy kick in your face?
- Do you want a simple repetitive pattern, or high degree of dynamics and variations?
The next step is to add synthesizers. In many cases, one melody or harmony ingredient of synthesizer is good enough to tell a story. If you use melody synthesizer plus harmony synthesizer, optionally plus another fills synthesizer, you can create an electronic cloud of very rich texture.
If you still have the space for melody, consider putting a electronic vocal ingredient there to add a human touch.
Related genres: Ambient, Dance, Disco, Electronic, Hip-Hop, House, Lounge, R&B, Techno, Trance.
Making rock music
Rock music is very well-defined. It’s vocal + guitar / keys + bass + drums. These four parts can almost be customized independently. We recommend you to think about the following:
- What is the main instrument? Acoustic guitar, electric guitar or piano (keyboards)?
- Do you want the bass to stand out in the mix or just do its own job?
- Do you want the drums to get big or just play lightly?
- What emotion are you looking for in vocal?
- Do you need some space to put in an additional instrument as fills?
Related genres: Ballad, Blues, Country, Folk, Funk, Hard Rock, Indie, Metal, Reggae, Soft Rock, Soul.
Making jazz / latin music
Jazz and certain latin styles have more freedom in the rhythm and chords. When you pick ingredients for jazz, you are controlling the degree of freedom and finding the sweet spot where it’s free enough but not losing control. In general, you should have at most one ingredient that’s doing jazz-style improvisation with other ingredients doing the job of accompanying it.
Related genres: Jazz, Latin, World.
Making orchestral / classical music
In most cases, you can combine the instruments of different families, such as strings, woodwinds, brass, piano and percussions. The only thing to think hard about is how to make sure the different families don’t fight for attention.
Related genres: Classical.
Making fusion music
It takes some time to get the above mentioned genres right. Once you know your way around, you can experiment with blending two genres.
For example, in a rock music setting, what if you replace the electric guitar with a jazz piano? Save your progress often, so you don’t lose the tasteful idea you come up on your way. After a few iterations, you will have your perfect soundtrack.
Royalty Free Music – Licensing
When you’re ready to export a royalty-free audio file to use, you will pay for the price of each stem individually. Stems range in price from $0.00 (free) to $50.00 each, as set by the musician who created them.
Once you purchase a stem, you can use it for any other songs you make with your account for no additional charge.
Three tiers of royalty free music licenses are available so that you pay nothing more than your intended use.
Lite is best for non-commercial use. Standard is recommended for commercial use and it applies x2 to price with a cap whereas Premium unlocks all commercial use cases with an x5 factor.
We hope you’ve found this article on creating your royalty free music helpful. This kind of music is great for all types of projects, whether it’s a narrative film, a documentary or a promo video for a company.
Have you created royalty free music? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.